Crying in CrossFit

“There’s no crying in CrossFit!”


“There’s no crying in CrossFit!”

Well, actually, there is, especially if you bear the chromosomes XX instead of XY.

I hold myself to pretty high standards, and I wear many hats. I’m a doctor, a women-only fitness and lifestyle coach, a girlfriend, a sister, an athlete, a writer and the founder of BirthFIT. My schedule is tight. If I get four workouts a week in, I’m happy. If I get five or more workouts in a week, I’m sore and thrilled.

This past weekend, I had one of those come-to-reality moments (or my time of the month). I finished seeing patients at about 7 p.m. on Friday evening and picked up dinner on the way home. Upon walking in the door, I showered, cooked dinner, returned urgent emails and wrote up my class plan for the women-only class that I teach Saturday mornings.

By 7:30 Saturday morning, I was out the door and ready to teach my ladies. Class was efficient and fun. Even though I was not in the mood to work out, I stuck around to participate in the regular class at my gym. Since I did not have the responsibility of the class on my shoulders, my mind started to wander. My to-do list in my mind became a hundred times longer. My traps began to seize up into my ears. I started to have severe anxiety about everything.

The coach came over to help me with my pistols, aka single-leg squats, which were in the warm-up. Simple enough. However, 12 years ago now, I had ACL surgery on my left knee, so that whole left side is a bit weaker and tighter as compared to my right. Well, to say the least, I freaked. I couldn’t do it without the help of someone or something aiding me. That pissed me right off because I overcome any and every adversity in life, by myself of course.

That was just the warm-up. Then came the workout, which consisted of four rounds of four movements, including pistols. I was thinking of every possible way to get out of the workout. Then I remembered I’ve never quit a workout. I may have not shown up, but I’ve never quit in the middle of a workout.

So right then, I decided to “WHOA-MAN” up and complete each rep of each round perfectly. Virtuosity may be what they call it, but that day I just called it guts and tears. I finished the workout a few minutes behind everyone. Immediately after my last rep, I walked out of the gym and bawled my eyes out.

I don’t remember crying that hard in a long time. One of my dear friends (who had also done the workout) had chased me down to hold me while I cried. I’m only a year into this CrossFit stuff, so I was thinking I was a big baby. I looked at her, and she said, “I’ve been there. Workouts bring it out of us. Just let out.” And so I did. I cried and laughed for damn near half an hour with my good friend next to me.

You see, even though we are women, we are not superheroes. We are only human. Emotions are one of the dimensions of being human. It’s OK to cry during a workout. Who cares if your male coach doesn’t understand you, because I guarantee, the girl next to you completely understands you and maybe has even been in your shoes before. I know I won’t remember the workout from that day, but I sure as hell will remember the love I got from my friend.

Lindsey Mathews